Gender and IWRM

The concept of gender mainstreaming in water resources management is not new, and while the ambition is clear, we are not advancing at the pace we need. Why is that? How can countries accelerate progress towards gender mainstreaming in water resources management?

As part of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, adopted by all UN Member States in 2015, countries have committed to “implement, by 2030, integrated water resources management at all levels, including through transboundary cooperation as appropriate” (SDG target 6.5). In line with the indivisible nature of the SDGs, achieving SDG 6.5.1 requires that attention be paid to gender mainstreaming, in line with SDG 5 on gender equality and empowering all women and girls. Progress on SDG 6.5.1 is monitored by the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) through a survey instrument, which all UN member states are invited to fill in approximately every three years, starting in 2017. The SDG 6.5.1 survey contains a gender-related question on the inclusion of gender in laws/plans or similar in water resource management (WRM) (Question 2.2d). Results of the 2017 baseline survey on SDG 6.5.1 showed that gender-related aspects were among the least advanced among all aspects of IWRM. The  2020 country responses to the gender-related question showed that the global average score for the gender-related question had risen from 45 out of 100 in 2017 to 54 by 2020, revealing definite progress, although clearly much more needs to be done.    


Advancing towards gender mainstreaming in water resources management 

In 2020-21, the SDG 6 IWRM Support Programme carried out a study in order to understand the bottlenecks to acceleration on this topic, as well as showcasing and disseminating a range of practices that have been implemented around the world, highlighting common gaps, challenges and constraints, and key enabling factors, and providing recommendations on how to strengthen current practices.   

The findings are published in report and were presented in a Learning exchange event.  

Report on advancing towards gender mainstreaming in water resources management

The full report presents an overview of bottlenecks to accelerate on gender mainstreaming and a range of practices that have been implemented around the world, highlights common gaps, challenges and constraints, and provides key enabling factors and recommendations on how to strengthen current practices.  


Briefs are available in EnglishFrenchPortugueseRussian and Spanish.  


Check out the interview with the lead authors of the report to learn more about the findings of the study here.

Learning exchange on gender mainstreaming in WRM

A Learning exchange on gender mainstreaming in water resources management (WRM) was organised on September 16th, 2021, to present the findings of the study on that topic. The event was a platform to better understand and discuss how to advance on the key enablers and overcome common bottlenecks for gender mainstreaming in WRM; and to understand the need for support from national governments and other stakeholders to advance in this key area for sustainable development. 

The event featured speakers from UNEP, UNEP-DHI, UN Women, Seven Solutions and GWP. Moreover, participants heard from Country Focal Points on SDG 6.5.1 on their experiences and lessons learned in advancing gender mainstreaming in water and had the opportunity to discuss challenges and lessons learned with other peers. 


Watch the full recording of the morning and afternoon sessions and read the summary notes of the breakout sessions. 


Listen to the experiences on gender mainstreaming in water resources management from Country Focal Points and other key stakeholderfrom BrazilGeorgiaKyrgyzstanNepalNicaraguaPanama,
Philippines and Viet Nam. 

Further resources

  • Find out more about GWP’s contribution to gender equality. 

  • Cap-Net offers gender and water-related resources including a training manual in Why gender Matters in IWRM, and an interactive tutorial, available here. Cap-Net has also launched an online course on IWRM and Gender in collaboration with  GWP and Gender and Water Alliance (GWA) . 

  • More information on UNEP-DHI's gender-related activities and links to external resources is available here. 

  • IWRM Data Portal: National SDG indicator 6.5.1 reporting data including country scores/ detailed responses to the gender question of the 6.5.1 survey and a gender checklist to assess the degree of gender mainstreaming in WRM. 

  • UN Women/ UNSD has published a report on Progress on the Sustainable Development Goals: The gender snapshot 2022. The report presents the latest evidence on gender equality across all 17 Goals, highlighting the progress made since 2015 but also the continued effect of the Covid-19 pandemic on women’s well-being and the threat it poses to future generations.